Evaluation of the tribological properties of DLC for engine applications

S. D.A. Lawes, M. E. Fitzpatrick, S. V. Hainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings are used in automotive engines for decreasing friction and increasing durability. There are many variants of DLC films which provide a wide range of mechanical, physical and tribological properties. The films can be extremely hard (>90 GPa), give low coefficients of friction against a number of counterfaces and exhibit low wear coefficients. The films are often considered to be chemically inert. The properties of DLC films depend to a large degree on the relative proportions of graphitically- (sp2) and diamond-like (sp3)-bonded carbon but the inclusion of elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, silicon, tungsten, titanium, fluorine and sulphur can dramatically change their tribological response. Two different types of DLC, a WC/C amorphous hydrogenated DLC (WC/C a-C : H) coating and an amorphous hydrogenated DLC (a-C : H) have been investigated. The mechanical and tribological properties have been evaluated by nanoindentation, scratch and wear testing and friction testing in an instrumented cam-tappet testing rig. The deformation mechanisms and wear processes have been evaluated by scanning electron and atomic force microscopy. The results show that the harder a-C : H film was more wear resistant than the softer WC/C a-C : H film and performed better in the cam-tappet testing rig.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS03
Pages (from-to)5427-5437
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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